The Innovators:

Flipping Vegas’ stars succeeding in our tough market

Husband and wife team Scott and Aimie Yancey pose in the kitchen of a foreclosure home in Summerlin Thursday, August 4, 2011. The couple is negotiating to buy the home for their television show “Flipping Vegas.” The show airs Saturdays at noon on the A&E channel. Once a $1.6 million property, the home is now completely trashed and will require a major make-over.

Flipping Vegas

Electrical switches are shown at a foreclosure home in Summerlin Thursday, August 4, 2011. Scott and Aimie Yancey are negotiating to buy the home for their television show Launch slideshow »

Scott Yancey has done something few Las Vegans have during the past couple of years: made money, and a good business model, out of a down real estate market.

Yancey is the star of “Flipping Vegas” on A&E. It’s a show that follows Yancey, his wife Amie, an interior designer, and a team of project managers as they flip homes. That is, they buy up dilapidated properties at deflated prices, then shape them up for sale and sell them for a profit.

“We find houses we can add value to,” he says. “And, if there’s a chance for me to break down a wall, I’ll do it.”

The couple’s venture into the real estate world, TV and making money all started with a cup of coffee and a little bit of eavesdropping.

“I was at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Summerlin one day a couple of years ago, and I overheard someone say you could buy a home in Southern Nevada for $36,000,” he says. “I have been buying at least a property a week since.”

It was after Yancey began telling his friends about his crazy adventures — and sometimes, misadventures — in Las Vegas real estate that the idea of a reality show came up. “It’s all in who you know,” says the Studio City, Calif., native. “And I have a lot of friends in the TV business back home.”

Yancey says his favorite part of flipping homes is showing off his “before” and “after” photos. The drama, of course, is the awesome part.

Yancey says he consistently has to make sure he makes more than he invests. Simple enough, right? But, he says, if home prices drop enough in a couple of months during construction, he could lose all investment, or end up doing a ton of work for no profit at all.

“I’m always in a race,” Yancey says, adding that the thrill is part of what he loves about his current career. “The prices continue to go down, so it’s a race against time.

“We have to flip homes as quickly as possible.”

By Christmas, Yancey says, the first 14 “Flipping Vegas” episodes for season two will be filed and in post production.

Although the real estate expert is mum on exactly how much money he has made, Yancey says things are going well. The cost of the show is only $350,000 for nine filming days with two camera crews, which isn’t a ton for a popular show, he says.

Next up: Flipping OC. Might seem counterintuitive to start flipping in such an expensive place, but the whole concept is the same: buy low, fix it, and sell high.

Perhaps the best part? The show serves as a love letter to Las Vegas, Yancey says, not as a putdown. It makes the city look good and like a great place for opportunity and innovative business ideas. And, he says, he’s living proof.

“I think part of the success of the show is that it has ‘Vegas’ in the title,” Yancey says. “Amie and I like to do Vegas things. I think in some small way, we’re helping the real estate problem.”